Metastatic Lung Cancer Treatment

Metastatic cancer occurs when cancer cells separate from a tumor and spread throughout the body via the blood or lymphatic system.

When referring to metastatic cancer, the primary site where cancer is diagnosed is the ‘type’ of cancer. For example, even when lung cancer has spread to the brain or bones, it is still referred to as metastatic lung cancer because it originated in the lungs.

Learn more about metastatic lung cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Why Choose Us for Metastatic Lung or Thoracic Cancer

Together with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, we have the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, meeting the highest standards in cancer research, treatment, prevention and education in the nation. We offer the most advanced treatment options, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy and access to clinical trials, many of which are not available elsewhere.

Logos of The Rutgers Cancer Center of New Jersey-Rutgers Health and NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center

New Jersey’s Largest Network of Cancer Specialists

We offer access to New Jersey’s largest network of cancer specialists, including nationally and internationally recognized oncologists, radiation oncologists, advanced practice nurses and oncology support professionals with advanced credentials in cancer specialty care with expertise in lung and thoracic cancers.

Our Oncology Nurse Navigators Will Guide You Through Your Metastatic Lung Cancer Journey

Oncology nurse navigators help secure appointments, coordinate follow-up visits related to treatments and procedures and guide you through aspects of survivorship.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

Metastatic Lung Cancer Symptoms

The most common metastatic lung cancer symptoms are feelings of being tired and unwell, including:

  • Persistent cough
  • A change in a persistent cough
  • Breathlessness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Ongoing chest infections
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hoarseness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Clubbing (changes in the shape of your fingers and nails)
  • Swelling of the face caused by main blood vessel (superior vena cava) obstruction
  • Loss of appetite

Other metastatic lung cancer symptoms depend on where the cancer has spread to, which is most commonly the:

  • Lymph nodes
  • Brain
  • Liver
  • Bones
  • Adrenal glands
  • Other parts of the lung or the other lung

Signs that cancer has spread to the lymph nodes include lumps or swollen areas in the neck and armpits

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the brain include:

  • Drowsiness and confusion
  • Severe headaches, often accompanied by sickness
  • Arm or leg weakness

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the liver include:

  • Right-sided abdominal discomfort
  • Feeling sick
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • A swollen stomach (ascites)
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the bones include:

  • Leg weakness
  • Numbness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the adrenal glands:

  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Metastatic Lung Cancer Treatment

Your doctor will choose treatment options based on your type of cancer (the type of cells cancer started in) while considering any health conditions you may have. The treatment for small cell lung cancer is different from the treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Treatment is aimed at controlling cancer for as long as possible and reducing symptoms. Chemotherapy may be recommended, and radiotherapy may be recommended if chemotherapy is effective. It is common to have prophylactic cranial radiotherapy (PCR), which is a radiotherapy treatment for the head, as small cell lung cancer tends to spread to the brain. The goal of radiotherapy is to kill any cancer cells that have spread to the brain but are too small to see on scans.

Other treatment options that may be used to control symptoms include:

  • Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy)
  • Laser treatment
  • Freezing the tumor (cryotherapy)
  • Placing a stent in the airway to keep it open
  • Light therapy (photodynamic therapy – PDT)

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment

Treatment is aimed at controlling cancer for as long as possible and reducing symptoms.

If you are well enough, you may have:

  • Chemotherapy. Medicines or drugs are used to kill tumor cells.
  • Targeted cancer drugs. Drugs or other substances are used to precisely identify and attack certain types of cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy. Boosts the immune system so it can find and attack cancer cells.

Other treatment options that may be used to help control symptoms include:

  • External radiotherapy
  • Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy)
  • Laser treatment
  • Freezing the tumor (cryotherapy)
  • Placing a stent in the airway to keep it open
  • Light therapy (photodynamic therapy – PDT)

Metastatic Lung Cancer Prognosis

The 5-year metastatic lung cancer survival rate is 7 percent, so people diagnosed with metastatic cancer have a shorter life expectancy.

RWJBarnabas Health oncologists work with researchers at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, the state’s only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, to stay at the forefront of metastatic lung cancer advancements.

Whether you need an initial consultation, a second opinion, or simply want to explore your treatment options, we can help you find the answers you need.

To schedule an appointment with one of New Jersey’s best lung and thoracic cancer specialists, call 844-CANCERNJ or 844-226-2376.

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